The Northern Way

The Norse King's Bridal


        NOTE: Swafurlami, a king of the seed of Odin, stole the sword Tyrfing (ripper) from the dwarfs who forged it. They laid on it a curse---that it should bring death to its bearer; that no wound made by it should be healed; and that three deeds of woe should be wrought by it. Swafurlami is slain by Arngrim, who inherits the sword. Eyfura, his wife, has twelve sons, all of whom become Vikings. Angantheow, the eldest, and his brothers, are eventually all slain near Upsala by Hjalmar, and his brother Arrow-Odd; but Hjalmar, being wounded by Tyrfing, has only time to sing his death-song before he dies.

Angantheow's daughter, Herwor (by his wife Tofa) is brought up as a bond-maid, in ignorance of her parentage. When at last she learns it, the war-fury comes upon her; she arms herself as an Amazon, and goes to Munarvoe in Samsey, in quest of the dwarf-doomed weapon. The following poem concerns her dialogue with her dead father, his yielding up to her of Tyrfing, and his prophecy of the further doom its possession will bring upon her race.

        The maid at eve in Munarvou
        Saw the herdsman homeward go.

        Who walketh alone so late i' the isle?
        Go seek thee shelter and sleep awhile.

        I seek not shelter to sleep awhile,
        For I know not the dwellers in the isle;
        Tell me, thou, what fain I'd know---
        Where is the mound called Hiorward's Howe?

        Mad thou art, that askest thus,
        And thy plight is piteous!
        Fly we to shelter, far and fast---
        The world without is grim and ghast.

        I'll give thee a neck-ring of gold so red---
        Not thus is the friend of heroes stayed!

        No ring that's wrough of the gold so gay,
        No goodly guerdon, my feet shall stay;
        Him I hold but a witless wight
        That will walk alone in the grisly night.
        Fires are flitting, and grave-mounds gape!
        Burns field and fen! Seek we to 'scape!

        Nay, for their fretting no fright I know,
        Tho' all the isle went up in a lowe.
        Nay, it behoves not to fear nor flee
        Tho' ghosts arise. Talk thou with me!

        Far to the forest he fled, afraid
        To hold discourse with the hardy maid;
        But higher-strung for her dauntless quest,
        Herwor's heart swelled in her breast.

        Angantheow, wake! the voice is mine,
        Tofa's only child and thine;
        Give to me the sword of flame
        Forged by dwarfs for Swafurlam!
        Angantheow, Herward, Hioward, Rann
        Waken, each and every man!
        Waken, waken from your sleep
        'Mid the tree-roots, where ye keep
        Blood-stained spear and sword and shield---
        All the weapons warriors wield.
        Surely, seed of Arngrim bold,
        Dust ye are, and mounds of mould,
        Speechless, if ye let me go,
        Eyfur's sons, in Munarvoe!
        Angantheow, Herward, Hiorward, Rann!
        Be it in your rib-bones' span
        As of ants a stinging horde,
        If ye give me not the sword!
        Ghosts no gear should have in ward!

        Herwor, daughter! Wherefore thus
        Callest curses down on us?
        Mad thou art, distracted maid,
        Wilful waking thus the dead!
        Surely thou art no mortal wight
        That comest thus to the howe at night,
        With helm and spear and bright breast-plate,
        Ore of the Goths, to the grave-mound's gate!

        Men called me a mortal, till thus I yode
        To seek thee out in thine abode.

  1. Give me what the dwarfs have wrought---


        Hiding          it avails thee not.
        Never hand of sire nor kin
        Laid me here, the howe within,
        But the foeman two that          I did not slay---
        Tyrfing one of them bears          today.
        See now that the truth thou          tell!
        May the grisly fiends of          hell
        Tear thee piecemeal from          they grave
        If thou hast not there the          glaive!
        Slow thou art, I tell thee          true,
        To give thine only child          her due!
        Hell-gate is opening---the          graves gape wide!
        The isle is flaming on every          side!
        All is ghastly and grim          to see---
        Back to thy ships, maid!          Turn and flee.
        Never a bale that burns          by night
        Shall put me with its flame          to flight.
        Never thy daughter's heart          shall shrink
        Tho' a ghost should stand          at the grave-

  1. mound's brink.


        I          bind ye all with a magic doom
        To lie and rot within the          tomb!
        Hjalmar's bane, from out          the howe,
        The sharp mail-scather,          give me now!
        Under my shoulders lies          Hjalmar's bane,
        Fenced with a fire that          will not wane
        No maiden I ken of earthly          mould
        Will dare such a blade in          her hand to hold.
        May I have the shining blade
        I will hold it, unafraid.
        It scares me not, it sinks          and dies,
        The burning flame, before          mine eyes.
        Herwor the brave, art mad,          to go
        Open-eyed into the lowe!
        Rather with the sword shalt          hie thee;
        Nothing, maid, can I deny          thee.
                (He          gives her the sword out of his grave.)
        Son of Vikings, well dost          thou

  1. To give me the sword from out the howe;


        Better          to me the boon, I say,
        Than wee I to conqu er all          Norroway.
        Little, daughter, dost thou          know
        Wherefore thou rejoicest          so!
        Fond, thou speakest words          of woe.
        Then shalt bear a son at          length
        Who will trust in Tyrfing's          strength;
        Heidrek, thus his name shall          run,
        Richer than all beneath          the sun.
        I must fare to my steeds          of the sea;
        Gay and glad is my heart          in me.
        Son of a king, I reck not          at all
        How my children hereafter          strive and brawl!
        Long shalt thou hold and          enjoy thy gain;
        But keep in the scabbard          Hjalmar's bane.
        Touch not the edges, with          venom dight,
        Wose than a plague to living          wight.
        Daughter, farewell! The          power and pith
        Fain would I endue thee          with
        Of us twelve men, the life          and breath
        The sons of Arngrim lost          in death!
        All is accomplished; I must          not stay.
        Hail, ye in the howe! I          will away.
         ------- -------- -------- ---------
        'Twixt life and death, methought,          I found me,
        When the flaming fire was          all around me!


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